Monday, August 22, 2011

My Five Loaves


Luke 9:10-17

New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
 10 When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.
 12 Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.”
 13 He replied, “You give them something to eat.”
   They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” 14 (About five thousand men were there.)
   But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. 16 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. 17 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

This story was part of my quiet time this morning and what really stood out to me was that the disciples had little to nothing to offer. For 10,000+ people they only had five loaves and two fish, yet God turned their small offering into something huge.

This really made me pause and think about all the times I haven't felt adequate to teach or share the gospel or even to serve others because I don't have exactly the right thing to offer. But what I realized through this story was that God doesn't ask me to be perfect at everything, he just asks me to give him what little I have and allow him to turn it into something beautiful.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Remember When...

Garland and I have been together for about 4 1/2 years now and earlier today I saw this picture come up on my Facebook and couldn't believe how young we looked! These pictures were taken the summer we started dating (2007) when we were 20 and 22 years old respectively. I look at these two kids and can’t believe how much has happened since then. Not that I view myself as a wise adult now, but looking back I know that I was so na├»ve about almost everything.
P.S. Check out how lovey dovey Garland Autry used to be! Ahhh to go back to the days when he was trying to win my affection… J



(To answer your question, yes, I am embarrassed that we were in this prom pose. I don’t know what happened)




Now here we are, almost five years later, and I feel more at home in his arms every day. We have been through our share of trials and I know there are more to come, but with these also comes the joy of knowing you will always have at least one person by your side.


-Sarah

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Number One Pregnancy Question...

Probably the number one question I get when people find out we've been trying to get pregnant is:
 "How do you handle your job when you can't have a baby?" 


 I have watched hundreds of girls walk through the door at my Crisis Pregnancy center who want to abort their babies, talk about how much they hate their babies, wishing their babies didn't exist. When people make the connection that my whole job is basically me counseling and catering to women who did not want to get pregnant I can tell that what they are wanting to say is, "You have a stable home and would be a great mom, yet these girls who weren't even trying and aren't responsible get a baby? How is that fair?" When I first heard someone approach this topic in a round-about way, I was totally taken off guard because I had never felt like that in the counseling room. I am so engulfed in their own story that I forget about mine.


Most people assume that I look at my clients and resent them for wasting such a precious gift. While I definitely think about all they are taking for granted, I don't feel resentment, I feel sorrow. My heart breaks for these girls who are overwhelmed by the mess of their lives and the hurt caused by the people that "love" them. They are so close to drowning they can't even fathom how they could save someone else, and the truth is I don't even blame them for being self-preservationists, because I'm sure I would go into panic mode, too.


As a matter of fact, I feel sorry for them. I know, I know, this seems so ironic. They are getting the one thing I want more than almost anything in life, the one gift I have been praying to receive for so many months now. But the truth is, it's hard to want to receive the gift of a baby in their circumstances. It doesn't feel like a blessing when you know that you are pregnant because you were raped, or that it will get you beaten up by your mother, or that it will make your boyfriend, who is the only male support in your life, leave you for another woman. It doesn't feel like a blessing when you get kicked out of your house at 15 for the baby growing in your stomach, or when no one in your school talks to you but only talks about you, or when you have been on so many substances you are sure that you have messed up that child forever from your choices. And it definitely doesn't feel like a blessing when every self-righteous religious person in the world looks down on you just because you have to wear your sin on the outside while their hidden sin is eating away at their souls. 


So this is my job, to show these women...
-That no matter their decision, they are loved. 
-That God has a plan for good and not for harm. 
-That it may not seem true this very instance, but that little heart beat is the rhythm of hope and a future; the rhythm of a fresh start and a reason to succeed.
-And finally, that if they decide to stop that heart from beating, that they can seek healing through Jesus Christ.

Unnecessary Preperation


This time last year I was:


-Making a list of creative ways to tell friends and family we are pregnant
-Trying to train myself to sleep on my side ("can't sleep on my stomach or back when I get pregnant")
-Following every thought of unhealthy food with, "Maybe this is a craving!"
-Trying to decide if I would continue working part time once the baby came or if I would stay home
-Wondering if my mom would move down here to be closer to her firstborn grandchild
-Exercising like crazy so I could have a jump start to being in "great shape while I'm pregnant"
-Stopped drinking any type of alcohol just in case the tests were wrong and I was pregnant
-Took about 300 pregnancy tests
-Deciding which extra bedroom would become the nursery and if I should go ahead and paint
-Thinking of ways to still lead cell group with a newborn
-Telling all my girlfriends the baby names I picked out so nobody would use them in the next 9 months before our little bundle of joy arrived
-Trying to decide which hospital would be best to use for prenatal care and delivery
-Saving pictures of my favorite nurseries and debating which nursery craft project I would tackle first
-Asking around to see which stores have the best baby gift registry
-Thinking it would be easy to get pregnant.

Psalm 40:1 
I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.

-Sarah

Monday, August 15, 2011

Coming Out of the Closet

I don't even know how to begin this blog. Most of my blog posts are on topics I've been thinking about for a day or two, or possibly a week at most. But how do you begin to explain a topic you've been thinking about for over a year? A struggle that is so near and dear to your heart that every day is a constant reminder that you've held it a secret?


The thing is, I have no idea how to articulate this and not have it be a billion pages long, so I'm just going to jump in at the beginning and try to keep it short. Fifteen months ago Garland and I agreed that we were ready to have a baby. The Lord had really been softening my heart toward the idea of having a baby until it got to the point that it didn't seem scary anymore but felt like an idea that had been there forever. I don't know how to explain it except that it seemed like God had changed the shape of my heart to include a little piece for a baby, and it just felt so comfortable putting that "baby want" in the crook of my heart.


Long story short, we haven't gotten pregnant. Fifteen months later we are still daily praying and asking God to give us our little one. We have been to doctors, tried medicine, tried different medicine, drawn blood, ran tests, tried non-medical theories, pretty much everything up until the surgical options. When people ask when we are having kids, I usually make a joke or something to keep from being in the awkward position of either a) lying about it or b) telling the truth and having them give me the pity face. I HATE THE PITY FACE! This is always followed up by what can sometimes be a very weird conversation about my body and why we can't get pregnant (which is very strange and personal thing to talk about in the middle of walmart, church, etc.).


A lot of people give me the sad face and ask, "How are you feeling about all this?" I have been all over the place emotionally, from confused to angry to peaceful to absolutely bottom-of-the-barrel-sad. I have witnessed friends and loved ones get pregnant, give birth, and some even get pregnant again. But through all of this, I know the Lord has a purpose. You might wonder why I decided to share now after keeping it private for so long. This is a complicated and also very easy answer at the same time. The first thing that happened was I was introduced to Michelle Yount's blog where she shares about her struggle with infertility. Reading her posts and seeing the supportive comments she got really encouraged me that I could open up about my struggle as well. But the real kicker was that I finally realized that this trial in my life will eventually have a happy ending (whether that's through pregnancy or adoption) and if no one knows we even went through the trial, how will they be able to see how the Lord has blessed us through it?


So what have I learned over the past 15 months? This is the good part.
1) I love  my husband and our life together with or without a baby. I am already way more blessed than many women who live in a broken home.
2) God would not give me a "baby want" if he didn't plan to fulfill that. So I know that whether it's through pregnancy or adoption I will have the opportunity to raise our little one.
3) I haven't gotten pregnant yet because our baby will give more glory to the Kingdom of God being born at a later date than right now. (Gosh, why did it take me til like month 11 to figure this out?!)
4) A lot of people say, "Oh, well you're only 24, it's not that big of a deal! You have plenty of time left." Wrong. No matter what age I am, it's a big deal to me. I have been praying and hoping for this baby for 15 months, and whether I'm 24 or 34 my heart still aches.
5) James 1:2-4: "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." This is truth.


So there it is! I already feel excited/nervous/anxious that it's out there and I can't take it back, but I know the Lord will use our story to touch someone else's life. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sometimes

Do you ever find a song that speaks so directly to your heart you don't want to do anything but lay on your bed and listen to it on repeat? I love that feeling. This week it was Sometimes by David Crowder Band off of the new Passion Worship cd (the whole album is incredible, by the way).


Sometimes every one of us fears
Like we’ll never be healed

Sometimes 
Sometimes every one of us aches
Like we’ll never be saved
Sometimes

When we’ve given up
Let your healing come

When theres nothing left
Let your healing come
Til were risin up
Let your healin come
Where You go we will follow
Where You go we will follow

It’s Your love that we adore
It’s like a sea without a shore
We’re lost in You, We're lost in You
It’s Your love that we adore
It’s like a sea without a shore
We’re lost in You, Were lost in You
Sometimes

Sometimes it’s like we never loved home
For all the love we know
Sometimes like in a smile of a song
When you feel it come
Then that feelings gone
It flies

When we’ve given up
Let your healing come
When there's nothing left
Let your healing come
Til were risin up
Let your healin come
Where You go we will follow
Where You go we will follow

It’s your love that we adore
It’s like a sea without a shore
We’re lost in You, Were lost in You
(3x)

Its your love we adore
Its like a sea without a shore
Don’t be afraid, Don’t be afraid

Just set your sail and risk the ocean
Show me grace
Let’s risk the ocean
Show me grace

Let’s risk the ocean
Show me grace
Let’s risk the ocean
Show me grace

Where you go we will follow
I’m on my knees
Where you go we will follow
Oh God send me
Where you go we will follow
I’m on my knees
Where you go we will follow
Oh God send me

It’s your love that we adore
It’s like a sea without a shore
We’re lost in You, Were lost in You
It’s your love that we adore
It’s like a sea without a shore
We’re lost in You, Were lost in You

Where you go we will follow

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Greatest Secret

Here's the thing. There is one secret that a woman guards so dearly that she sometimes won't even share it with the closest of friends for fear that they may steal the secret. We don't get many things in life that are socially acceptable to be so selfish about sharing, but this is one of them. Some women are completely open about their secret and don't care who knows it or who uses it, but for some of us, the secret is sacred and the stealing of said secret could lead to permanent damage to  friendship (confused yet? Sometimes I like to pretend I'm writing a spy novel instead of a blog so I can be as cryptic as possible).


What am I talking about? Baby names.


Now maybe you're one of those women who doesn't really care and you think, "eh, if they use a name I've chosen we'll just both have a kid named that." But I don't feel that way. It's not that I would take it as a personal shot like they did it intentionally to hurt my feelings, but I couldn't help but think, "FOILED! Now I have to start my baby name search over..." 


So here's the question: How close is too close? Obviously, if you love the name Sally Sue and your best friend uses the name Sally Sue you can't name your baby that (this leads to a deeper question of the friendship: How much does said friend really love you if she knowingly uses the baby name you have been saving? I would take a guess that she may not be a true friend, it's part of girl code). 
Okay, so best friends (and siblings) are out for sure.
Can you use the same baby name as:
A couple in your community group: no
Someone from work: yes
A relative of a close friend: depends on if you are also friends with the relative
Cousin or other non-sibling family relation: no if they live close, yes, if they are live out of town or the rest of your family doesnt really keep up with them
High school friend you were close with but hardly ever see: no
Friend who you used to be close with but now you just see their baby on facebook: yes


Now here's the irony, it doesn't matter if you are not pregnant and don't have any kids, you still lay claim to that name. I am not pregnant so you would think I have no right to reserve a name, but buddy, you are wrong to think that! I am so territorial about these names I haven't even told anyone outside of my closest friends and community group (sorry blog followers, you won't be hearing them today!). Furthermore, the biggest reason I even told my friends is mostly because I want them to know DO NOT NAME YOUR BABIES THIS! THESE ARE RESERVED FOR MY FUTURE CHILDREN! (You can't post claim a name after your friend says, "I think we're going to go with Sally Sue" or everyone will think you are lying and just now decided to like it)


So why does it matter? Well, I'm sure for everyone it's different, but for me, I don't ever want someone to ask what my baby name is and I say, "Sally Sue," and they answer with, "Oh, like John and Jane's baby, Sally Sue." WORST. My baby will not be like anyone else's baby! Not that no one else will use the same names as us (I'm going to use names that already exist, I'm not going to put a bunch of consonants together and call it a name), but I just don't want to have two Sally Sue's running in the same circle of baby friends (I grew up as one of three Sarah's in my mom's friends: no one ever knew which child was in trouble). 


Furthermore, the more unique the name is the worse it is when someone else uses it. If you are going with a traditional name or popular name you have nothing to worry about because it's pretty much guaranteed that many other people around you have that baby name (you should make your peace with this now). But for women like myself who have both a boy and girl name picked that is relatively unused currently, it is so hard to hear that someone else is using your name! Recently a friend of a friend almost named her baby the same name I have loved for a year now. She had no idea that I was planning on using it but because she runs in the same extended circle as me people will always know her baby as the original "(insert dream baby name here)." And the thing is, you can NEVER ask someone NOT to use your favorite name, it's like telling a girl she can't buy a wedding dress because it's your dream dress but you're not even engaged yet. 


*sigh* female relationships can be so complicated! One of these days I'll look back on this moment and have already secured the perfect baby names and laugh at all the young women crossing their fingers that someone doesn't snatch theirs up. Until then, here's to hoping I can throw other baby name trollers off my scent!